(b. 1560, Bologna, d. 1609, Roma)
Venus and Anchises1597-1602
Galleria Farnese, Palazzo Farnese, Rome
The figure of Venus can be traced back to one of Raphael's compositions that circulated as an engraving; it reconstructs the marriage of Alexander and Roxane, an antique painting known only from literary sources.
The paintings in the Galleria Farnese are erotic, in the broadest sense of the word, for the overarching theme of the scenes is the omnipotence of love, 'omnia vincit amor' (love conquers all), as expressed by Virgil in the Eclogues. The medallion to the right of the Venus-Anchises scene illustrates this saying precisely, for it is Cupid who is shown triumphing over Pan.
The Farnese Gallery, in which a love for classical antiquity goes hand in hand with extraordinary naturalism, set in a highly effective illusionistic layout, became Annibale Carracci's most famous and hailed achievement, a source of inspiration continually updated in later centuries.